The Seattle Mariners did much of their heavy lifting regarding the protection of their top prospects from the Rule 5 draft in Septemeber and as a result, had another quiet day on the busiest day of the off-season.
It was supposed to be the day the Mariners finally made their first trade of the winter. It was supposed to be the day Seattle rewarded one of their organization’s models of what the new player development system can do. It was supposed to be active. And yet, it was anything but.
The deadline for teams to submit their 40-man rosters has passed and the Mariners decided not to protect any additional prospects. This leaves notable prospects like Ljay Newsome, Dom Thompson-Williams, and Jack Anderson, amongst others, as eligible to be selected in next month’s Rule 5 draft.
Seattle did already add prominent names like Kyle Lewis, Justin Dunn, and Jake Fraley during the 2019 season, protecting them along the way. Perhaps most surprising is that the Mariners didn’t acquire anybody (as far as we know) in the league-wide roster culling as many anticipated they would.
Instead, GM Jerry Dipoto stood pat and decided to take his chances in December’s Rule 5 Draft. Dipoto has played this game in the past 2 off-seasons, surprising some fans the past few years in not protecting Ian Miller 2 winters ago, or Art Warren last winter.
Dipoto has a good track record of knowing the market on his players and there are no players left unprotected who will definitely get drafted. Perhaps the prospect with the greatest likelihood of being selected is Newsome, who broke out in a big way in 2019.
Newsome used pinpoint command and improving stuff to post 169 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 155 innings. But his stuff is still underwhelming and the odds of him sticking on a big-league roster all season are slim to none.
Reliever Jack Anderson is another candidate. His unorthodox delivery creates great deception and he could survive a role in an MLB bullpen if given a chance. But like Newsome, there isn’t a ton of upside here, so it is unlikely a team will commit a roster spot for an entire season to him.
Ultimately, the Mariners have a fair chance of hanging onto all their unprotected assets, but the let down of the day still looms large. Fans will have to be patient for their first bit of 40-man addition this winter as Seattle has shown little enthusiasm thus far.